"Poll Tax" for City Council Candidates?

One of the costs of a free society is the cost of having Elections.

A "Poll Tax" was charged in some states of voters, effectively discouraging participation of certain groups.

Poll Taxes were outlawed by the 24th amendment to the Constitution in 1964 for Federal Elections, and later court cases prohibited them elsewhere.

The City of La Habra Heights, like most cities, does not charge a filing cost to run for City Council.

However, the City does mail out a Sample Ballot, which may contain Candidates Statements.

Placing a Candidates Statement in the Sample Ballot is optional, but not doing so may diminish a Candidate's viability in the eyes of voters.

The City of La Habra Heights charges 2009 City Council Candidates a deposit of $2,000 for the cost of a 200 word Candidates Statement, with the final amount, and a credit or additional charge, determined by the cost of translations, printing and mailing.

Election code 13307(a)1 allows for the City Council to increase the number of words in the Statement from 200 to 400. Given the high cost of the Statement, that should be done.

For the 2007 City Council Election, the City charged a $1700 deposit for estimated costs, later refunding about $1200.

Other cities surveyed in Los Angeles County have charges ranging from zero to $3,000 for Candidates Statements depending on the number of languages chosen.

La Habra Heights has, by far, the largest per voter cost for the Candidates Statements, ranging from almost 5 times as much to 70 times as much as other cities.

Some cities, reflecting the will of the people, feel it is the duty of taxpayers to pay for election costs.

The charge by La Habra Heights is so much higher than any other City surveyed, it may well discourage potential candidates.

Having the residents absorb the cost of Candidate Statements would be about $2.50 per year per household, given a cost of $10,000 to translate, print and mail to 2,000 addresses, and an election every 2 years.

Cost Comparison for City Council Candidates*
City Filing Cost Candidates Statement English Only Other Languages Registered Voters# Cost Per voter
La Habra Heights $0 $2000 includes other languages 3,513 57¢
Beverly Hills $25 Paid by city Paid by City 21,121 < 1¢
Claremont $50 Paid by City Paid by City 20,871 < 1¢
Glendora $0 $720 English & Spanish 29,847 2.4¢ for 2 languages
La Canada Flintridge $0 $810 $810 each language 13,731 6¢ for 1
La Verne $0 $495 $495 Spanish 18,786 2.6¢
La Mirada $0 $500 $500 ea Korean and Spanish 24,938 6¢ for 3
Norwalk $0 $3000 for 4 languages 39,763 7.6¢ for 4
Rolling Hills $175 Paid by City Paid by City 1,413 12¢
San Dimas $0 $475 $475 each additional 19,234 5¢ for 2
San Marino $0 $287.50 $850 English & Chinese 8,325 10¢ for 2
South Gate $0 $2300 English & Spanish 29,743 7.7¢ for 2
*Phone survey of City Clerks done on December 9, 2008.
#Registered voter numbers from Los Angeles County Registrar November 2008 Election results.